Raising teenagers in today’s society is not an easy task.
As parents, we do our best to protect our children and keep them safe. But it can be difficult during the teenage years when they begin to leave the nest.
We’ve all lectured our children about the dangers of drugs, alcohol, and even prescription pills. But what about the most commonly used drug in the world— what about caffeine?
On April 16th, 2017, sixteen-year-old Davis Cripe is pronounced dead as a result of caffeine consumption.
Davis is known for being a good teenager. He attends school, works a part-time job, and can always make his friends laugh.
Davis never dabbled in drugs or alcohol and he didn’t smoke cigarettes. But he was known to drink coffee and energy drinks.
On the day of his death, Davis had consumed a McDonald’s latte, a Mountain Dew soda, and an energy drink, all within a 2 hour period. At 2:28 p.m., the teen collapsed in his classroom. By 3:30 p.m., he was pronounced dead.
Although the levels of caffeine ingested by Davis were not toxic (meaning he did not technically die from a caffeine overdose), they did bring on a “cardiac event” in an otherwise healthy teen, County Coroner Dr. Gary Watts tells ABC News.
In general, moderate amounts of caffeine can be safe, but ingesting too much in a short period of time— like Davis did— can be extremely dangerous.
The following chart published by the Journal of Toxicology shows the amounts of caffeine in various popular beverages:
According to Mayo Clinic, it is safe for adults to drink up to 400 mg of coffee. This is the equivalent 4 cups of coffee, 10 cans of soda, or 2 energy drinks.
However, according to ABC News:
“It’s unclear how much [caffeine] is safe or unsafe for teens or young children since studies of its effects are not permitted.”
Canadian Family Physician (CFP) says consumers of energy drinks and energy shots should be particularly cautious:
Energy drinks contain extremely high concentrations of caffeine, often coupled with other stimulants, such as taurine, ginseng, and guarana. In the United States, they are marketed as dietary supplements, a fact which also limits their regulation.
The ease with which children and teenagers can access these drinks is also becoming a growing concern: CFP reports that 25% to 33% of teens and young adults use energy drinks regularly.
In the United States, in particular, college kids report drinking energy drinks for a variety of reasons, including to deal with a lack of sleep (67%), as an energy booster (65%), and as a mixer for alcohol (54%).
Although caffeine presents risks to all children, The Official Journal of the Academy of Pediatrics says that it may be particularly dangerous for those suffering from:
- cardiovascular disease
- liver disease
- renal disease
- mood and behavioral issues
When all is said and done, please remember to educate your children regarding the dangers of caffeine and energy drinks.
For more information about caffeine and its effects, see the FDA report entitled “Medicines in my Home: Caffeine and Your Body“.
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